April 1991 Home   Newsletters

May 1991

June-July 1991

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
League Testifies
Volunteers Needed to Help Neglected and Abused Children
Letters from Leaguers (Sam Szucs)
Letters from Leaguers - 2 (Mildred Walston)
Citizen's Petition - The National Voter Registration Act
Q & A on Voter Registration Reform Legislation
For Action! Petition Congress - National Voting Act
Officers and Board of Directors Approved at Annual Meeting
LWV-Hawaii Convention 1991

League Testifies



Last August we wrote CPO Ben Lee our comments on the original Bill 129. We objected to its lack of a comprehensive island-wide golf course policy and plan, to its selling of land use and zoning for negotiated case by case community benefits, and for its requirement of impact fees sometimes only remotely connected to the infrastructure costs of a given golf course.

Last November 14 we raised similar concerns when we testified at the Council's Public Hearing. The GP proposed a revision of Bill 129 which dropped mandatory impact fees in favor of negotiated community benefits in exchange for vesting Development Rights.

Just 2 days ago, we received a proposed CD-1 prepared by Council members Doo, Gill and Holmes. We strongly support the stated intent of this Bill, particularly the provision of a comprehensive golf course policy for the City, limiting the total number of golf courses on the island or any one area, and establishing planning criteria for the evaluation of golf course applications.

We cannot, however, support what we consider to be the undesirable--and indeed unnecessary--inclusion of vested rights provisions. As we have repeatedly testified before this Council, such provisions tie the hands of future Councils, lead to land speculation, permit deals with favored developers instead of being based on standards applicable to all, and, being administrative, are initiative proof. In this respect, we think the original Bill 129, which embodied the community benefits in a unilateral agreement and did not grant vested rights, was preferable. If State law requires that Development Agreements include vested rights, we suggest that they be called something else--Development Contracts, Benefit Agreements, or whatever and omit the State language entirely. These could then be Legislative acts rather than Administrative.

We refer you also to John Whalen's proposed community benefits assessment Bill which was before you several years ago. This laid out a comprehensive methodology, taking many variables into account for determining mandatory benefit assessments equitably and objectively and did not grant vested rights.

It is clear moreover, that neither impact fees nor community benefit assessments can legally recover for the community an adequate share of the increases on land values resulting from DP or zoning approvals. This, we feel, is a matter of taxation not impact fees. We therefore applaud the intent of Companion Bill 37 also drafted by Councilmembers Doo, Gill and Holmes which establishes a framework for recovering a portion of these increased land values. It wisely differentiates between public golf courses charging moderate fees and private facilities charging membership fees and high green fees.

We think this is the way to go. We fear that giving vested rights to golf course developers would only open the door to all development. Finally, we think that the revised Bill and further amendments should be scheduled for another Public Hearing before the Council since it contains much new material.


On October 15, 1987 we testified before this Council questioning the need for adding rapid transit stations, site determined, on the Public Facility maps at that time. Since the routes and station locations, to say nothing of a commitment to build rail transit were still undetermined, we thought such map designations were premature. Such designation--might, we feared, lead to speculative expectations and land price distortions.

We think time has proven us right. We therefore welcome the proposed deletion of the HART alignment from the PUC and Central Oahu maps, but we think it is still premature to place a new "site determined" designation on the presently planned route. It was clearly understood by this Council that the selection of this route was only for the purpose of further planning and engineering, developing more precise ridership and cost data, and securing financing and construction proposals. It was definitely not intended to indicate final Council approval of building a rail system on this or any other route.

Hardly had the "locally preferred alternative" been selected, when questions began.

Should the route through downtown be shifted mauka along the waterfront, in order to better serve pending redevelopment and eliminate the costs of an underground segment there? Should the line go underground in Waikiki rather than overhead on Kuhio? Or should it extend into Waikiki at all, perhaps substituting a shuttle bus system? It should be noted that this question is a key issue in the preparation of a Master Plan for Waikiki. The question has been raised whether the route should go underground all the way from Iwilei to Diamond Head irrespective of the cost? And, if so, could not a better route be designated underground than the one selected, which had to follow streets that could carry the overhead structures? And would this not involve the relocation of stations?

All these uncertainties point to the inadvisability of locking any route info the DP maps in the "site determined" category at this time. Those coming in with formal construction proposals may also have ideas as to better routes and station locations, or different ones. There is also the question of whether, when the chips are down, the system will be built at all.

Justification for the proposed amendment is said to be that it "will allow timely funding and implementation of the Honolulu Rapid Transit Development project". We submit that such funding and implementation cannot be accomplished until all these, and many other questions are answered, and until a firm decision has been made to build a rail system and on what route. DP Public Facility map amendments can be made at any time when needed to legalize funding and implementation. We do not think that that time is yet at hand.



Our organization has opposed urban development of this site from the beginning, because both State and City land use policies and plans called for it to remain in agricultural use. Some months ago the press reported that the City might develop a golf course on the site and then sell it to the highest bidder.

The current proposal, to amend the DP Public Facilities Map by designating the site with a symbol for golf course/park use, site determined, within six years, is said to be intended to allow public acquisition. Though it is not so stated in the hearing notice, we are informed that the intention is for the City to condemn the land, send out Requests for Proposals to developers, and then sell the land, or at least the development rights, to whoever submits the most advantageous proposal--the proceeds to be used for housing.

This has a very familiar ring. Are we repeating the West Loch controversy? Can the City condemn land for public purposes and then turn around and sell it to a private developer for his private profit? We think this even can go beyond "selling zoning". Are we now proposing to sell the land itself?

Last year the Council adopted new DP and LUO provisions confining future golf courses to certain DP districts and certain LUO zones only, specifically excluding agriculture. Yet the Waiola site is DP'd Agriculture and zoned Ag-1, the most restrictive agricultural zone. Is it legal to put a proposal on the DP Public Facilities map when it is contrary to the DP Land Use Map and the LUO?

Furthermore, the Council has before it Bills 108 and 31, both calling for moratoria on further golf course approvals. Their purpose is to provide time for General Plan and DP changes governing the number, design, type and location of golf courses and to set conditions for environmental protection and impact fee requirements to be applied to each. As we have repeatedly urged in the case of other golf course proposals, we think that this one, too, insofar as it involves a potentially privately owned facility, should be delayed until these actions are taken.

We do not oppose purchase of the site for a public purpose, such as a public park. If it were compatible with the island-wide golf course policies and plan we have long urged, a public golf course could become part of the facility. We would suggest amending the DP land use map to allow a public park on the site, which we believe would permit its acquisition if so shown on the DP Public Facilities map.

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